Winter Training

Darker evenings, dropping temperatures, and no doubt endless rain. It doesn’t bode well for that post-summer workout motivation, which is now probably already wilting.  We understand the struggle, honestly, but continue reading. The autumn/winter months are actually the best time to hit the gym.

Cold weather training

will burn more fat than training in warm weather.  While many people associate sweating with burning calories, sweating and the number of calories you burn are completely unrelated. Sweating is simply the body’s mechanism for cooling off, what burns calories is physical effort.

Training in the colder months

It is easy to turn to comfort food in winter because it’s so satisfying and it makes us feel good, for a little while anyway. It’s so easy to become a hibernating bear! No wonder it’s known as the ‘winter weight gain’ period. The average person puts on up to 4 kg!

Cold weather training will burn more fat for two reasons:

• Your body will burn more calories simply to keep warm
• Cold temperatures encourage your body to produce brown fat

Take advantage of these two facts to torch body fat and lean out for the warm season by doing one easy thing.

Regular exercise

Research has also shown time and again that regular exercise strengthens your immune system so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections. Exercising outdoors will improve circulation, and better circulation will result in a stronger immune response. Studies have proven that people who exercise get sick less frequently than people who are sedentary.

Cold weather exercise, being more strenuous, will result in a better improvement in immune response than training in warmer weather.

While there are a limited number of foods that can provide your body with vitamin D, the easiest source is from exposure of bare skin to sunlight.

During summer a short exposure of 10-15 minutes is plenty, but in winter, sunshine can be harder to come by, especially if you are snuggled up indoors. So that’s why it’s VERY important to get outside and get moving and smile at the sun!

The feel good chemicals

Whether it’s the usual winter blues or the more serious SAD (seasonal affective disorder) putting a gloom over the colder months. We know that after exercise, the brain releases the “feel-good” chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help to reduce anxiety and depression while boosting wellness, so 45 minutes exercise per day could change your whole outlook on winter!


Sugar vs fat

The guideline origins

For the past few years the dietary guidelines that we have been following for over forty years have been slowly shifting. The origins of these guidelines came from initiatives in America in the 1970s to combat the increasing rate of heart disease and the growing belief that the primary cause of this was raised levels of cholesterol due to eating too much saturated fat, mainly found in meat and dairy products.  Cholesterol was thought to cause plaque build-up in the arteries leading to heart disease. There was very little focus on any effects that sugar may have on the human body but the general view at the time was that sugar was not a problem.

Fat is not so bad

Fast forward to today and we see that fat is no longer vilified as being all bad and in fact there are an increasing number of articles in the press and nutritional magazines stating that fat especially omega 3 found in oily fish and eggs and omega 6 found in nuts, seeds and grains, should be incorporated in your diet. However this has made the situation very confusing for a generation of people who have been brought up on the belief that fat is bad and sugar is fine and who now find it difficult to comprehend that it may be the other way around.

Added sugar consumption

The guidelines on added sugar consumption for UK were set in 1991 at 11% of a person’s daily energy intake. This equated to 11 – 14 teaspoons of added sugar for adult women and men respectively. There was no guideline on the total consumption of sugar from all foods including added sugar but the figure of 90g of sugar per day per person was used on labelling in Britain and across the EU. This equates to 22 teaspoons (4g per teaspoon) of total sugar per day.

Government guidelines

In 2015 new UK government guidelines were introduced and added sugar consumption was set at 5% of daily energy intake, which equates to 5 – 7 teaspoons for adults. Note that a small can of Coca-Cola has about 9 teaspoons of added sugar. Surprisingly, the total sugar Reference Intake has stayed at 90g (22 teaspoons) per day and is still the current standard within the EU. One wonders if the Stone Age diet, or even the diet of the 1950s, included 22 spoons of sugar per day.

Misleading labelling

Food manufacturers in general do not specify the amount of added sugars in a product but are required to list the amount of carbohydrates and total sugar on the labelling. This can be very misleading.  A food may have high sugar content due to a combination of natural sugar from carbohydrates plus free or added sugar. This calculation can mean that people fail to consume less than 22 teaspoons total sugar per day.

Average consumption

Britons on average consume 12% of daily energy intake (15 teaspoons) from added sugar per day. This combined with eating refined carbohydrates such as white flour products, pasta; rice etc., all with high sugar content has contributed to an obesity epidemic. Around 62% of adults are now classed as overweight or obese, contributing to other health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and tooth decay.

Current advice

To maintain good health avoid high sugar foods, anything where sugar is more than 5%,  particularly processed food, eat wholegrains, foods rich in natural unsaturated fats such as those found in oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. Your body will feel the benefits in a very short time.


National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS)

Public Health England – Responding to the sugar challenge (2014)

Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) Carbohydrates and Health Report

Whole Grains You Should Be Eating

Whole Wheat

It can be readily found in bread and pasta products, but make sure the label says “100 percent whole wheat.” Terms like “multigrain” and “wheat” don’t cut it. As when you’re shopping for any whole-grain product, look at the ingredients and make sure the whole grain is at or near the top of the list. Each serving should contain at least 2 or 3 grams of fibre.

Whole Oats

Oats are particularly rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart. When you’re shopping for this whole grain, whether you see the word “whole” or not doesn’t matter the way it does with wheat products. Oats in the ingredients list mean the product is made from whole oats.

Brown Rice

When you choose white rice over brown, around 75 percent of its nutrients—including nearly all the antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins contained in the healthy bran and germ—are left on the milling-room floor. Always opt for brown rice, which includes brown aromatic varieties like basmati and jasmine. Get even more exotic with red and black rice, both of which are considered whole grains and are high in antioxidants. Though technically a grass, wild rice is also considered a whole grain and is rich in B vitamins, such as niacin and folate.

Whole Rye

According to nutritional research from the non-profit Organic Centre, rye has more nutrients per 100-calorie serving than any other whole grain. It has four times more fibre than standard whole wheat and provides you with nearly 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of iron. Make sure label is marked “whole rye”


Yes, freekeh has a crazy name, but it has very serious benefits. This Arabic grain is a low-carb form of ancient wheat that has up to four times more fibre than brown rice. Freekeh kernels are harvested while they’re young and then roasted. They contain more vitamins and minerals, such as immune-boosting selenium, than other grains. Once in your stomach, freekeh acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria that aid digestion. (This is different than a probiotic, which is a beneficial live bacteria you consume). Waitrose stock it.

Whole-Grain Barley

Eating a half-cup of whole barley regularly during a 5-week period cut participants’ cholesterol levels by nearly 10 percent when compared to other participants who went without barley in a USDA study. Add raisins or dried apricots to quick-cooking barley and serve it as a side dish. Just make sure it’s whole-grain barley, not “pearled,” which means the bran and germ has been removed.


This common pancake whole grain is one of the whole grains many people living with celiac disease can tolerate (others include quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum). And it’s one of the best grain-based sources of magnesium, a wonder mineral that does everything from ease PMS symptoms to improve nerve functioning; and manganese, which boosts brain power.


For all practical purposes, bulgur is considered a whole grain, even though up to 5 percent of its bran may be removed during processing. It’s so good for you, though, we’re putting it on the list. The grain, which is used to make tabbouleh salad, is a great source of iron and magnesium. The fibre and protein powerhouse (a cup contains nearly 75% of the dietary fibre you need for the day, and 25% of the protein you should get) can be used in salads or tossed in soups. And it cooks in only a few minutes.


Though it’s technically a seed and not a grain, this ancient South American power food is packed with more protein than any other grain, and each uncooked cup (about three servings) has 522 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. And it keeps well, so makes an easy make-ahead lunch to pack to work or school

Whole-Wheat Couscous

Most of the couscous you see is a form of pasta, usually made from refined wheat flour. So when you’re eyeing the items in the aisle for the healthiest couscous, look for the whole-wheat kind, most easily found in natural-food stores. Skipping the refined version and going with the whole-grain type will gain you 5 additional grams of fibre.


Corn can be extremely healthy for you when it’s whole. A good source of B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus, whole corn is also thought to increase healthy gut flora, which can ward off diabetes, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. Yellow corn is also high in antioxidants.

Source: rodalesorganiclife